The number of mortgage loans paid off in Colorado was down 2.6 percent during 2016’s third quarter compared to the same period of last year. Mortgage payoff rose 21.6 percent from the second quarter to the third quarter of this year.
Public trustees in Colorado released a total of 87,192 deeds of trust during the third quarter of 2016, indicating a sizable increase in the amount of home purchase and refinance activity since the first and second quarters of this year. Typically, a release of a deed of trust occurs when a real estate loan is paid off whether through refinance, sale of property or because the owner has made the final payment on the loan. Release activity rises as refinance and home-sale activity increases.
In the first chart, we see release activity in the third quarter compared to the third quarter of last year:
In this case, we see that Summit County and La Plata County reported the most release activity over the period, thus suggesting more sale and refi activity in those areas. The largest decreases, on the other hand, were found in Boulder County and Eagle county over the period suggesting less sales and refi activity. Overall, release activity fell in 11 counties while increasing in 10 counties.
The second chart shows release activity relative to the overall number of households in each county. A lower number indicates more release activity per household.
In this case, there were only 7 households per release of deed of trust in Summit County, making it the most active county. The least active county was Pueblo County:
The third chart shows total releases for the first three quarters of this year compared to the same period last year. In this case, the largest increase was found in Alamosa County, and the largest decline was found in Eagle County. In the counties surveyed, activity fell 1.3 percent from 2015 to 2016.
In this case, it appears some of the most expensive counties — in terms of real estate — have been experiencing some of the largest declines in activity while the largest increases are seen in the lower-cost counties such as Pueblo and Mesa. There are exceptions, however, as in the case of La Plata county, which is a relatively expensive county that is nonetheless seeing continued increases in release activity.
Being largely driven by refi activity, release activity is sensitive to changes in mortgage rates. In the next graph, we can see that following periods of decline in mortgage rates, release activity tends to rise. Release activity tends to fall in periods following increases in the mortgage rate:
For example, note how release activity fell significantly during late 2013 and early 2014 following an uptick in mortgage rates during 2012 and 2013. Similarly, an increase in mortgage rates in 2015 likely contributed to a slight drop-off in release activity in early 2016. In 2016, however, mortgage rates have fallen, which helps explain the uptick in release activity during the third quarter of this year.
Other factors are important too, however, and these include overall demand for housing, employment, and population growth. In Colorado, even in the face of increases in the mortgage rate, we often continue to see sustained real-estate transaction activity when jobs creation remains solid and population totals are steady or increasing. Overall, 2016 has seen little change from 2015 in terms of statewide release activity.
Barring a significant chance in economic conditions, this situation is likely to continue.
(Totals for releases of deeds of trust are collected quarterly. This report tracks releases of deeds of trust as reported by public trustees in Colorado. The report includes twenty-one counties which are chosen based on population size and to ensure that as many regions of the state as possible are represented. More than 90 percent of all occupied households in Colorado are within the twenty-one counties chosen.)